Why did my car die at a light after I let off the brake and gave gas?

2006 Honda Accord EX 4 Cyl 2.40

Hello everyone. I have a older car with 200,000 miles on it. I’ve never really had any problems with it at all, except that sometimes when I will be driving (maybe once a month) I’ll be sitting at a light, will let my foot off the gas to accelerate when it turns green, and the car will act like it wants gas and is about to go but then dies, shuts off, stalls. So I turn the car off, put it in park and it always starts right back up.

Except this time it didn’t start back up and I died at a intersection. Towed it to a family auto chain shop here in Minnesota (victory auto) and they were nice and helpful, but because it’s a Friday they didn’t have enough time to fully inspect. Tried jumping it, wouldn’t crank over (interesting because I never had trouble with it starting it always would), and they tested the battery it was ok and had juice. Lights work radio etc. But it did make a click click sound but didn’t want to turn over or hear the engine. If it’s my alternator do they really just go out like that?

They said it seems like the starter is bad (which I thought is odd because it always starts up), and because it won’t start they can’t test the alternator. The quick fix is to put a new starter in and then can test other things. They quoted me about $800 to do that which I wasn’t expecting and do not know if is fair or right at all for my car. So I started asking questions the best I could because that price set alarms off.

My oil change is due it’s been over 10,000 miles (I use synthetic but the level is fine) and I’ve noticed when I rarely am not top of changing it it’s more likely to stall out like it did, but it always starts up.

So if the battery is fine, does the starter really go out like that? It seems like it might be more progressive than just not working all of a sudden. And if it is the starter, and then the car starts, and the battery is fine (which in my head means the alternator is working otherwise the battery would likely be drained right?) what are your thoughts on what could be wrong?

And is $800 reasonable to put in a new starter and labor? For an older car like this?

I’m just skeptical if they’re trying to pull a fast one on me. I heard $800 and stopped. What are some questions I can ask to verify I’m not getting scammed? I just know some places can start with one problem and move on to the next and soon enough you’re in thousands of dollars, whether it’s legit or not.

However, they were helpful and did try to explain and empathize, and even loaned me a car. They said they would look at other things for the weekend which I hope is a good sign. I was want to be careful. Thanks.

Yes,starters usually work erratically for a while before they completely dies.Some starters like Denso starters found in my Corolla and other japanese cars can be easily repaired by changing the 2 copper contacts inside the solonoid housing…usually a 10 minute process. You can buy a kit on Ebay that includes the contacts and plunger for under $10.Removing and installing a starter can be labor intensive on some cars and $800 seems fair to me.

Yes, but failure of the starter doesn’t explain the stalling of the engine.
More diagnostic work by the OP’s mechanic is necessary .

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That’s what they said they were going to do. Told me the starter would get it going but that wouldn’t take care of the underlying issue, if there is any. So they would do more diagnosis.

It’s a 06 Accord that’s what surprised me, I thought Honda’s were pretty solid all around and easy to work on. Some things must be more expensive.

I heard as far as the underlying issue maybe it could be the engine timing, or needs a tune. In the past when I’ve kind of pushed on the gas pedal while the brake is down before I accelerate I’ve noticed it will kind of get the fuel it needs. But when it stalls like that and I don’t rev it a little bit it will be more likely to stall out. So I’m not a mechanic obviously lol but it seems maybe something to do with fuel and not getting enough? Any ideas on what that might be? Or too hard to say?

And in short what you guys are saying is just wait for them to diagnose that’s the only way to know forsure? And as far as my being worried about being ripped off or something seems like what they’re doing is on par with what you’re saying should be done.

I just hope it’s not great $800 on a starter then they say the engine is totally screwed up or something, guess that’s the reality of owning an older car. Even if it’s like my timing or needing a tune that shouldn’t be another $800 or something crazy right seems like it’d be a lot cheaper.

You probably have more than one issue. If the battery is fine, the alternator should be too, unless an alternator failure just happened. Still, the battery will run down if the alternator is not recharging it.

Did they check the cable connections for oxidation? Connections at the battery, starter, and alternator need to be clean. If you do get a starter, a remanufactured starter is a good idea. Comparably priced new starters may not have the same quality as the original Honda unit that is rebuilt. Did they price it with a new Honda starter, new aftermarket, or rebuilt unit? You should have gotten an itemized list of parts and labor, including the cost for both.

If you don’t trust this mechanic, you might want to consider having a different shop do the diagnosis.

Not sure how thorough they checked it, was a Friday about noon and they were very busy. Gave me a loaner car and said they’re gonna spend more time on it rather than rushing, which I appreciated a lot actually.

And when he talked about price I asked him how much is it per hour and he said they do their jobs at a fixed rate. The mechanic gets paid however he does but the shop just does it as a job. I looked online for starters around $200 but he said that didn’t come with a warranty. And even if I got my own starter for that much it wouldn’t cover the labor to get it out and do it again if it was wrong. Said the starter he had was around 300 then labor was another roughly 400.

I don’t have a sheet exactly because I wanted to leave it there for them to diagnose before I did anything. But yes I’ve been there before and they are professional and have had things quoted and listed. Whether it’s overpriced or not I’m not sure.

They were very nice and helpful, and even loaned me a car and said let’s wait over the weekend.

I will admit it’s probably me being a little stressed and paranoid over it not them haha. They are a pretty big family chain around the cities here. just when it starts getting expensive that’s when I just want to do my own research and get other opinions which is what I’m trying to do.

The prices seem reasonable. Don’t buy your own parts. Let the shop buy them. They won’t and shouldn’t guarantee parts you bring in.


I asked about that, I maybe would have saved a hundred bucks and no warranty. What they said made sense I just wasn’t sure if the price was fair. I feel much better now that they were trying to do the right thing at least. I guess I will have to wait for the diagnosis and get a new starter at least.

If something crazy pops up I’ll be sure to ask what you guys think you’ve been very helpful I appreciate it thanks! Will update the thread with what they find.

Just my 2 cents, but I don’t think that they are thinking things through here. A rough test of the alternator can be made without the engine running. Key to the RUN position (engine not running of course) and touch the alternator pulley with the tip of a screwdriver. If a magnetic attraction is felt the alternator is quite likely good.

I’m not sold on the bad starter diagnosis either. If it were me I would do some checking on the ignition switch leads. Hondas have had issues with ignition switches for years and some are even under a Recall. Your car is not but cars not covered still have the same problems.

Bad ignition switches generally cause random stalling or no-starts but depending on age and key cycles can also cause the starter motor to be inoperative.
As far as that goes, a faulty neutral safety switch on the transmission (assuming an automatic here) can also prevent starter operation.

I’m not meaning to lay suspicion on these guys but there are some thought processes to go through before replacing a starter motor for 800 bucks. What if 800 bucks later you are still at square one? Then the suspicion level is really going to rise…

I also think you are making a mistake with a 10k miles oil change regimen and synthetic is not always the liquid miracle many think it is. Your comment about not being on top of changing it and being more likely to stall out may or may not be a bad sign.

By the time the contacts have worn out in the solenoid, the brushes and bushings in the starter are probably worn out too.

Just replace it with a remanned unit and get it over with.



Not really! mine gave me another 100k miles before I retired the car. Starter was still going strong.